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Hassler, eminent family of German musicians:

(1) Isaak Hassler , organist; b. Joachimsthal, c. 1530; d. Nuremberg (buried), July 14, 1591. He studied in Joachimsthal with Johann Matthesius, the local headmaster, and with Nicolaus Herman, the Kantor. In 1554 he settled in Nuremberg, where he was active as both a lapidary and a musician. He was highly esteemed as a musician, as were his 3 sons:

(2) Caspar Hassler , organist, editor, and composer; b. Nuremberg (baptized), Aug. 17, 1562; d. there, Aug. 19, 1618. He studied with his father. In 1586 he became organist of the Egidienkirche and then of St. Lorenz, where he remained until 1616, when he became organist of St. Sebald. He was renowned as an organist and as an authority on organ design; restored the organ at St. Sebald in 1617. He was ennobled by Emperor Rudolf II in 1595. He ed. valuable collections of works by the leading Italian masters, which included some works by his brother Hans Leo Hassler and other German composers (1598, 1600, 1600, 1613). His only extant work is a 4-part Fantasia in German organ tablature (ed. in Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Bayern, VII, Jg. IV/2, 1903).

(3) Hans (Johann) Leo Hassler , celebrated organist and composer; b. Nuremberg (baptized), Oct. 26, 1564; d. Frankfurt am Main, June 8, 1612. He began his musical training with his father, then in 1584 continued his education in Venice, where he was a pupil of Andrea Gabrieli. He was named chamber organist to Octavian II Fugger in Augsburg in Jan. 1586, and quickly established himself as one of the leading musicians in Germany. In 1591 the emperor granted him the privilege of copyrighting his compositions. He was ennobled by the emperor in 1595, and was given a coat of arms and the title of Hassler von Roseneck in 1604. While in Augsburg, he also became active as a manufacturer of mechanical musical instruments, an enterprise that led to numerous litigations with business rivals. After Oc-tavian’s death in 1600, he was made director of the town music in Augsburg. He also served as Kaiserlicher Hofdiener to the court of Emperor Rudolf II, a position which may have been purely honorary. He obtained a year’s leave of absence from Augsburg for a stay in Ulm in 1604, and then decided to remain there the following year; became a citizen of Ulm in 1607 and a member of its merchants’ guild in 1608. He was appointed the Saxon electoral chamber organist in Dresden in 1608, and later assumed the duties of Kapellmeister. Following his move to Dresden, he was stricken with tuberculosis. He died during the visit of the court chapel to Frankfurt am Main for the election and coronation of Emperor Matthias. Hassler excelled as a composer of both sacred and secular vocal works. His sacred compositions reflect the influence of Lassus and others of the Venetian school, while his secular compositions display a pronounced individuality. His organ music follows the precepts of Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli. The Sämtliche Werke, ed. by C. Crosby, commenced publication in Wiesbaden in 1961.


Canzonette for 4 Voices, libro I (Nuremberg, 1590); Cantiones sacrae defestis praecipuis totius anni for 4 to 8 et plurium vocum (Augsburg, 1591); Madrigali for 5 to 8 Voices (Augsburg, 1596); Neue teutsche Gesang nach Art der welschen Madrigalien und Canzonetten for 4 to 8 Voices (Augsburg, 1596); Missae for 4 to 8 Voices (Nuremberg, 1599); Lustgarten neuer teutscher Gesang, Balletti, Gaillarden und Intraden for 4 to 8 Voices (Nuremberg, 1601); Sacri concentus for 4 to 12 Voices (Augsburg, 1601; 2nd ed., aug., 1612); Psalmer und christliche Gesänge for 4 Voices, auff die Melodeyen fugweiss componiert (Nuremberg, 1607); Kirchengesänge: Psalmen und geistlicher Lieder, auff die gemeinen Melodeyen for 4 Voices, simpliciter gesetzet (Nuremberg, 1608); Venusgarten: oder neue lustige Hebliche Tantz for 4 to 6 Voices (Nuremberg, 1615); Litaney teutsch for 7 Voices (Nuremberg, 1619); also vocal works in various contemporary collections.


J. Neyses, Studien zur Geschichte der deutschen Motette des XVI. Jahrhunderts: I. Die Form der H.schen Motette (diss., Univ. of Bonn, 1926); M. Jarvis, The Latin Motets of H. L. H. (diss., Univ.>of Rochester, 1959); F. Hartmann, H. L. H.: Gedenkschrift (Frankfurt am Main, 1969).

(4) Jakob Hassler , organist and composer; b. Nuremberg (baptized), Dec. 18, 1569; d. probably in Eger, between April and Sept. 1622. He studied with his father, and was apprenticed as a town wait in Augsburg in 1585; then received a stipend from his patron, Christoph Fugger. He was ennobled by Emperor Rudolf II in 1595. In 1595-96 he became entangled in legal problems, culminating in his incarceration; he was released through the efforts of his brother Hans Leo Hassler. He was organist at the Hohenzollern court in Hechingen (1597–1601), and later imperial court organist to Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. Following the emperor’s death in 1612, he pursued mining in Eger.


Madrigali for 6 Voices (Nuremberg, 1600); Magnificat 8 tonorum for 4 Voices, cum missa for 6 Voices, et psalmo li for 8 Voices (Nuremberg, 1601); also keyboard works, some of which were ed. by E. von Werra in Denkmäler Tonkunst in Bayern, VII, Jg. IV/2 (1903).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire